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To Light The Dragon's Fire: Dragons, Griffons and Centaurs, Oh My!, #1

To Light The Dragon's Fire: Dragons, Griffons and Centaurs, Oh My!, #1

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To Light The Dragon's Fire: Dragons, Griffons and Centaurs, Oh My!, #1

ratings:
3.5/5 (7 ratings)
Length:
272 pages
4 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Jun 13, 2014
ISBN:
9781501441004
Format:
Book

Description

Independent and fiesty Terra Heegan is on the verge of sacrifcing everything to save her family's struggling trucking company. But, she wants one last hoorah before settling into a loveless marriage. With her sister, Lanni, Terra takes a trip into the mountains of Wyoming to explore one of the few places left on Earth where adrenaline and wit are the only things that can keep her out of trouble...

Dragon King, Draven Taraxus, never wanted the crown. Born to a dying breed of Rulers, Draven has sat on the throne for the last 100 years, thanks to his father's impeachment. Boredom and stagnation have left his Kingdom, and his heart, ripe for the picking by a power hungry evil that has spent that same amount of time plotting and scheming to take over.

Everything is in place. The pieces have all been set and all Evil needs is one last ingredient to rule everything. The love of a human with fire-red hair adn silvery eyes that will...Light The Dragon's Fire

Publisher:
Released:
Jun 13, 2014
ISBN:
9781501441004
Format:
Book

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To Light The Dragon's Fire - Margaret Taylor

Chapter One

"Tell me again why we’re doing this?"

Terra Heggan chuckled softly, searching the rock wall above her for a crevice with the fingers of her free hand. She found one, set the piton in a groove of the ancient stone and tied off.  Relaxing back into her harness, she turned, shining the head lamp over her shoulder. It landed on her sister, Lanni Heggan. Because it’s fun. Because it’s the only place left in this world to get an honest adrenaline rush. Because...

Because it’s also the only place Nolan can’t or won’t follow you, her younger sibling mocked.

Terra climbed another ten feet, hoping the snarl in her next words wasn’t as telling as it sounded. That’s a perk. Not a reason.

She heaved herself up by the fingertips, grabbed the next crevice, and for just a moment hung suspended nearly two hundred feet in the air while she set a piton. Tying off, she watched her younger sister carefully, ready to grab the rope joining them and take up the weight if there was a problem. Seeing her sister set her own piton, she relaxed. It’s no one’s fault that Nolan Harrington V was raised a mama’s boy and has no desire to muss his manicure.

Lanni’s reply was breathless as she brought herself up to Terra’s level. Then why in the world are you marrying the guy?

Because we need the money, she said. Mom and dad are on the verge of losing everything and the Harrington’s are loaded.

Lanni reached across the space between them to lay a hand on her forearm, throwing her own words back. That’s a perk. Not a reason. You don’t love him, Ter.

No, I don’t. She shifted the hard hat back and wiped the sweat off her brow with a forearm. But it doesn’t matter. I’m well past the age where love matters all that much. My families security, she stared her sister in the eye. Your security means a great deal more to me than some fanciful notion of love.

Ter, Lanni said.

She raised a hand. No, no, I’m honest enough with myself to admit I’ll never find love, not true love anyway, so what’s the point of keeping that hope alive. I’m settling and I know it. It’s ok.

Lanni gave her a skeptical look. Uh huh...

Her sister shrugged when she didn’t comment further, and took the lead for a bit, scampering up the rock wall like a monkey in the jungle.

Not that she’d ever actually seen a monkey scamper, but she’d read enough books on the subject, and had enough of an imagination left to get the picture. They only had another 100 feet or so left on this adventure. Soon, they’d reach the ledge marked on the map she’d obtained before arriving in what was left of the Grand Teton Mountains of Wyoming. It was one of the few places on earth that hadn’t been overrun with humanity in the last hundred years or so. As she’d said, one of the few places left on earth where an honest adrenaline rush could be obtained without the aid of cybertronics.

She smiled softly, and followed her sister up the wall setting pitons along the way until they reached the ledge of rock. It wasn’t really a ledge but an entrance to a cave. A dark, musty tunnel yawed before them, and she swung her head left and right. The lamp barely penetrated the darkness though, and she was tempted to explore it, despite its ominous presence.

What now? Lanni asked.

Let’s explore. Swinging her pack off, she set it down in the dirt and pulled out a heavy flashlight. Feeling adventurous, sis?

Lanni shrugged. Sure, why not. I mean it’s not like we’ve got anything else to do right?

She smiled widely at the prospect. Right!

The cave was marked on the map but no other details were readily apparent. No hand drawn tunnels leading off of it, no marking to indicate whether it was dangerous or not. Probably because no one had bothered to take a closer look. 

No surprise there. Given the current state of the world not many humans took the time to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. No one rock climbed much anymore – at least not in the real world. No one spent time away from their computers and videos and various and sundry available cybertronics. Why expend the energy to do something when you could get the same effect through a vid-helmet, and never had to leave the comfort of your own couch!

Humans had become extensively lazy in the last millennia. As technology had improved, the need to do things for oneself had been lost. There were robots and computers to do for you these days, so why expend unnecessary energy.

That was the thinking of most at least...

Some, like her, still preferred the old fashion way. She loved working up a sweat, and the sense of accomplishment she got for a completed project. She scooped up the pack again, and slung it over her shoulders, pointing the flashlight ahead.

It barely penetrated the darkness but she wasn’t worried.

There was no indication this was dangerous.

With a smile and a shrug she led the way down the tunnel.

Lanni followed and a companionable silence fell between them.

Lanni finally broke it when the passage narrowed. I don’t think we can go any further.

Terra waved the light over the enclosing rocks. Sure we can, just one at a time. She pulled a coil of rope from her belt and tied one end to Lanni’s waist.

Her sister’s voice was full of nervousness. It’s probably a dead end. Let’s go back, Ter.

She laughed. Not on your life, Sis. Come on. If it gets any tighter we’ll head back, I promise.

Ok.

Lanni still sounded worried but she wasn’t about to be outdone. Not today. This was her last chance – her last gasp – to do as she pleased, and she wasn’t about to give that up. Not without something to remember!

She took the lead, and within moments of starting down the passage, her upper arms scraped against the rocks on either side. With every step the walls were closing in, and she was thankful she wasn’t claustrophobic. Her gear rattled, pitons and d-rings clinking together, mingling with her heavy breathing as she worked her way along.

Lanni’s equally labored breaths made her grin and she realized how lazy she’d let her sister become too. But, it was too late to change. In just a few days, she would be married and not allowed to sneeze without an ok from her husband.

The walls seemed to shift another inch closer and she sucked in her stomach to wriggle through a surprisingly tight passage. She pushed beyond it and the press of rocks expanded again. She took a confident step and the sand under her boot gave way.

She screeched as the weight of her pack shifted unexpectedly, as if an unseen force had shoved her in the back and sent her further along in a rush. She grabbed for the rocks to slow her progress but they’d turned slick with condensation. Her stomach knotted with fear as she rushed forward. Her feet had a mind of their own and continued to churn through the sand working against her attempts to stop.

The rope around her waist tightened, jerking her progress to a halt.

Ter? You ok?

She straightened, panting slightly and twisted the flashlight and helmet lamp around. I’m fine, she called back. Just stumbled. She paused, judging the new opening for a moment. Come on through. Watch your step though, the sand is loose...

Lanni, not as fleet footed on land as rock apparently, slammed into her back with a grunted oomph.

Back there... She chuckled and turned to give her sister a hand in gaining her balance again. You ok?

Lanni laughed, the sound light but still holding an undercurrent of nervousness. Yeah, just wasn’t expecting that dip.

She swung her lamp back the direction they’d come. Dip?

Lanni nodded quickly. It...it, she stuttered. I felt like I was being pushed down a hill.

She’d felt much the same but nothing behind them seemed out of the ordinary. And, with a new cavern ahead, there was a definite itch to explore further. Well, we’re fine. Come on, let’s keep going.

Her voice echoed off the stone and swung the flashlight here and there, trying to get a feel for how large this new cavern might be. It seemed massive and never ending. She took a step forward, intrigued and didn’t see the slope until it was too late...

Her scream bounced off into the darkness, propelled along as she slid wildly down the sand. She kicked her feet and rolled onto her stomach, grappling with the soft surface in the hopes of slowing her descent. Finding nothing, she kicked herself onto her back again, watching the flashlight bounce along at her feet with a weird sense of awe and dread of an inevitable death settling in the pit of her stomach.

Would she plunge off a cliff in the end and fall into a dark pit, never to be heard from again?

Would she continue to gain speed, slamming into hard rocks that would break every bone in her body?

Would she drag Lanni along to their deaths?

Would anyone ever find their bodies?

She’d made a classic spelunking mistake and not left behind any sign of where they’d gone. Other than the pitons they’d need to climb down again, there was no indication they’d entered the cave...

Lanni! Grab... she tried to warn but was too late.

The rope at her waist pulled taut, driving the webbing up into her ribcage and a second scream pierced the darkness. The air forced from her lungs in a rough whoosh and she barely had enough time to draw in more before she slid to an unexpected halt in a tangle of arms and legs against something...soft?

Lanni wasn’t far behind and once more slammed into her back, booted feet narrowly missing her head.

Oomph! her sibling grunted. What the hell?

She scrambled to right them both and searched for the flashlight. Its faint glow under the pile of sand they’d brought down with them drew her eye and she reached for it. Digging it free, she passed the cone over whatever had halted their progress. It seemed to be a wall of some sort, but it glittered in the light, a faint sheen of condensation creating tiny rainbows as she swept it back and forth.

Then, it moved. Literally.

The sparkling rainbows shifted, undulated and parted to reveal...a giant...eye.

Holy, shit, Lanni whispered. Is, that a dinosaur?

The reptilian eye blinked once then focused sharply.

Terra scooted backwards, air stuck in her lungs as a voice vibrated across every fiber of her being.

"I am not, a dinosaur, it said. The wall moved a second time, drawing away from them and turned, revealing two very large nostrils and an equally long snout. I, am a Dragon."

She exchanged a stupefied look with her sister, at once on the verge of screaming hysterically yet fascinated by what her eyes were seeing and her brain was telling her couldn’t be true.

A Dragon? An honest to God’s, real, live, Dragon?

White smoke coiled out of its right nostril in a huff and its majestic head lowered, turning to see them. The lids narrowed and his voice rumbled against the ground. And what might you be?

The simple question shook Terra out of her stupor. We’re human, she answered much more calmly than she should.

The long snout jerked up and back, his voice reverberating with what might have been shock. Or awe, she couldn’t really tell. "Human? Humans!? Here? Oh, no no no...flagnok and double flagnok!"

Without pause, the thing uncoiled its long body and rose onto four short, thick looking legs. A claw as large as the rented SUV they’d left at the cavern’s entrance, reached out and scooped them together into its palm, talons as tall as she was, curling around them.

Oh no, no, no, it muttered, turning away from where they’d slid to a halt and heading off down a passage his body had previously blocked. No, no, no...it’s too soon! You weren’t, you can’t! It’s not yet time!

Tossed off her feet, Terra worked onto her knees, shouting up at the thing. What the hell? She pushed at a nearby talon, trying to move it and slip free. What are you doing?

He said nothing and they emerged from a tunnel into the bright sunlight a few minutes later. With care she didn’t know a beast so large would be capable of, it set them down again in some knee-high purple grass and started pacing.

What to do, what to do!? it muttered, talking more to itself than them. I can just, no, not that. I could, he paused and shook his head. No, no, that won’t work either. There’s always, Another pause and another shake that rained sand and pebbles down around them.

She covered her head and caught Lanni out of the corner of her eye, doing the same.

In the bright light she got her first good look at the creature and was filled with a sense of its majesty. From nose to tail it was easily the length of two football fields and almost as tall as a three story building with scales the size of a modern day vehicle. The surface of its body flickered through a rainbow of colors as it paced back and forth, rattling the ground under their feet with each step.

"No, no, I can’t do that either. It spun to the left, turning a bright pink and its scales rippled as it drew in a long breath. Maybe I could... It spun around to the right, a wave of bright blue rolling along its body. It stopped and yet another band of color twisted down its length. The rainbow finally settled on a mix of bluish-green and it rose up enough to clap its two front feet together. That’s it! Come on, climb up! it ordered excitedly, lowering its head to the ground. Hurry, hurry now," it added when neither of them moved.

No longer in awe, Lanni stepped forward, her normally diminutive sister bristling with anger. She stomped a foot and crossed her arms. Now, see here! We’re not going anywhere with you until you start making some sense!

She intervened, putting herself in front of the creature’s massive maw. Easy, sis, she warned. I’d really hate to get eaten a couple of days before the wedding.

The dragon’s head jerked back, white puffs of smoke coiling out of its nostrils and spoke in an incensed tone. Eaten? Eaten? Why, I, haven’t, it sputtered, sending a rain of spit into the air. I would never! It put a paw to its breast and tears pooled in its eyes. "I’ll have you know, I’ve not eaten another creature in three hundred Suns!"

Chapter Two

Draven Taraxus stared out his window, only half-listening to Jarex Copsa and Kyde Phara, current Regents of the Griffon and Pegasus population go at it.

I will not stand by and let you insult my Roost, horse, much less my people, Jarex squawked. His short beak clacked together a couple of times and his wings expanded, flapping loudly. I demand you withdraw these accusations, at once!

Kyde snapped a hoof against the stone floor of his private conference room, sparks shooting off in several directions. I will not! His large head nodded toward the table and he snorted. The evidence of the Griffon’s involvement in the raids is right there! Your Majesty, I implore you to not only sanction Roost Baltus, but all the Griffon Houses.

Draven didn’t move. Internally he sighed, really wanting to set aside his crown and give the two overbearing, arrogant leaders a lesson in manners. He wouldn’t, but that didn’t stop the desire from coursing along his arms. Silence stretched across the room and he caught two of his personal guards shifting ever so slightly out of the corner of his eye.

They were nervous in the face of their natural enemies and he couldn’t blame them. He hated dealing with them as well, but as King, he didn’t have much choice. Not anymore.

He stamped down his primal instincts and turned, keeping his tone appropriately measured. I will peruse the evidence presented and adjudicate my decision in four rotations.

Jarex’s green eyes narrowed but he bowed his head in acceptance. The Griffon couldn’t argue with the decision and they both knew it.

Kyde’s head dipped regally and he spun, hooves sparking against the stones as he left.

Jarex waited two heartbeats and followed, his long front talons scraping the floor.

The scurrying of much smaller feet across the table drew his gaze. Furiem Corlant darted toward the sheaf of papers the Pegasus had left and stacked them together with his small hands. Well done, Sire, the Ferret said. He rolled the ‘evidence’ up, stuffed it into a tube then tucked it into a bag he dragged along behind him. I will compile a report forthwith, he added, patting the canvas cover.

A smile tugged at his lips. Thank you, Furiem. I look forward to it.

The animal bowed its head and scampered off the table again, humming a jovial sounding tune. He skipped across the stones and disappeared through a small door at the other end of the room.

Draven liked the little guy and was thankful he’d hired him as the official Reporter.

Left alone, save for the guards, he turned back to the window. Staring up at the fluffy blue clouds in the sky, he wanted to be up there, right now, instead of stuck in this cold, impersonal place, waiting for the next dispute in need of settling.

He longed to feel the wind lifting him higher and higher. He ached deep in his chest to float among the masses of fluff, almost desperate to feel the moisture slide across his scales...

It wasn’t to be though. He hadn’t had a free flight in a number of Suns, not since they’d set that ugly monstrosity on his head.

The door behind him swung open and his second in command strode calmly across the room. Catching his reflection in the glass pane, he smiled.

Arin Manus returned it and stopped beside him. Handsome in his own way, he swiped shoulder length tawny hair back over his shoulder and his golden brown eyes swung toward him with a look he couldn’t read. Dressed in a three-piece pinstriped suit of black, he folded his corded arms across his chest and sighed softly. How did it go?

He snorted once and clenched a hand into a fist. The same way it always does when the Griffons start shit, he answered honestly. How about you?

Arin shrugged a shoulder. The market took a hit today, he said calmly. According to rumor, the Centaurs are on the verge of revealing some new machine that will greatly improve harvesting. Buzz is, it will revolutionize the farming community and the Goblins are all over it, buying up stock as fast as they can mine the gems to do it.

And the Ogres? How did they take your questions?

Arin snorted softly and his thumb grazed across his upper chest. Fine. I handled it well enough.

He scrubbed a hand down his face and dropped his eyes to the city below, watching the throng of his citizens moving here and there. It wasn’t yet evening and the city still hummed with life. Buildings of stone and steel stretched away from his vantage point, some almost as tall as his own offices.

They were a contradiction in terms and he could only blame his bastard of a father for the change in their lives. A hundred Suns ago, the aging ruler had just...disappeared. When he reappeared, he was full of tales of the human world. A place that most believed no longer existed, himself included.

He’d ranted and raved about technology and computers and vehicles that moved faster than any Centaur or Dragon and

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  • (4/5)
    I was expecting a little more "romance", but instead, got a lot more fantasy, which was excellent. The world-building was amazing, the plot was engaging, and the romance was not trashy.
  • (5/5)
    This is a great story! I have to say, I'm pleasantly surprised by this author's use of traditional fairy tale creatures (dragons, centaurs, and gryphons, oh my!) and her ability to weave a good story around them. The name of the series is the only thing campy about it! I enjoyed this book so much, that I immediately read the second book, before I even wrote this review! I've just purchased book 3, and will read it just as soon as I've written my reviews. I would definitely recommend this series to anyone who loves fantasy and romance.